History of Logistics, Distribution and Supply Chain Management

Legendary_kiss_V–J_day_in_Times_Square_Alfred_EisenstaedtToday logistics and distribution is a rather complicated and advanced process but it began years ago in a less advanced form. We thought these quick facts and historical background would provide for an interesting read:

Logistics refers the movement of products or services to a designated location at an agreed upon time, cost and condition. Ancient Roman and Greek wars are the basis for today’s logistics systems. Rome developed a highly efficient logistic system to supply its legions. Military officers called “logistikas” were responsible for ensuring the supply and allocation of resources, so that soldiers could move forward efficiently.

During the Middle Ages elaborate supply systems, roads and warehouses were used. Forts and castles became storage depots supported by the economy of the surrounding countryside. During the Industrial Revolution, logistics advanced greatly with the addition of railways and ships.

World War I further increased industrial capabilities. The internal-combustion engine gave rise to widespread use of motor transport. World War II was characterized by dramatic advances in transportation and communication. U.S. shipyards performed at an unprecedented pace to expand the merchant marine (a fleet of U.S. civilian-owned merchant vessels that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the navigable waters of the United States).

After World War II, logistics moved from warfare to business. Physical distribution of products began with a focus on outbound activity. Filling orders, distribution of products, storage and warehousing, production planning and customer service are presently important aspects of the logistics process.

An entire industry was born from what started as a way to get products from point A to point B. Many companies now rely on outsourcing for some or all of their supply chain management activities, resulting in the development of third party logistics companies for efficient transport and tracking of goods.

Hopkins has been a part of the history of logistics for over 20 years. Contact Hopkins Distribution to discuss your specific distribution needs today!